Preventative health screening | Bowel & Prostate cancer screening test

Why you (or your man) should have preventative bowel & prostate cancer screening

Preventive screening for bowel and prostate cancer is a topic Pierre Du Sart, our Health Coach, actively champions. Find out why it’s one of his top men’s health tips.

As a health coach with a particular interest in men’s health, I meet men of all ages and walks of life every day. As a result, a recurring topic of conversation continually crops up. Unfortunately, most kiwi men are often busy working and caring for whānau. So little time is left to consider their health.

Preventative screening could save your life or a male whānau member (& why getting screened shows mana)

While early detection and treatment are vitally important to men’s health, not all prostate cancers need treatment. Some types of tumours are so slow-growing that they may never need treatment. But, the only way to find out if you need urgent treatment is by screening for prostate cancer.

Culturally, like many kiwi men, you might have been raised to see yourself as tough and indestructible. You might even like to describe yourself as ‘bulletproof’. Am I right? As for getting preventative health screening, is it something that’s even crossed your mind recently? Let’s face it, most of us pull a face when the words’ prostate test’ crop up!

But the point is, none of us gets to choose if we are bulletproof. Honestly, the best way to stay the resilient person you aim to be is to ensure you’re keeping ahead of the game. And, if you’re the first in your whānau to get an early test, you’re showing manaakitanga leading the way.

Why should you get a screening test for Men’s Bowel or Prostrate Cancer (even if you have no symptoms?)

Moving preventative screening tests for Bowel and Prostate cancer to the top of your to-do list is a smart move for maintaining top health. Information is power. These screening tests can spot cancer early before you would typically even show symptoms. I can’t stress enough that you can stop cancer in its tracks if you get a head start on detection. Then you can hit it hard – early – when treatment works best. That reduces cancer’s impact. And it can also improve your chances of survival.

As good kiwi blokes, we’ve encouraged our wahines to have regular mammograms and cervical screening as we know it’s important. And now it’s time to set the example to the men we care about by getting tested and talking openly about it.

Over time our sons and friends will be able to experience the same peace of mind by proactively getting screened for preventable conditions like bowel and prostate cancer – because it’s the norm.

5 reasons why it’s essential to have a screening test for Bowel Cancer (& how do you know if you are at higher risk?)

  1. The fact is, bowel cancer (Matepuku pukupuku i te whekau)is the second-highest cause of death from cancer in New Zealand. However, early diagnosis helps us find cancer early when treatment works best. Early treatment gives you a 90% chance of long term survival. In addition, preventative screening could save your life.
  2. Because there are sometimes no early warning symptoms of bowel cancer, you probably won’t necessarily think you are at risk.
  3. How do you know if you are at higher risk of bowel cancer? Do you have a family of bowel cancer or inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease? If the answer is yes, tell your doctor. In addition, there are lifestyle factors like diet, alcohol intake, smoking, obesity, and not exercising enough that can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer.
  4. Have you noticed any unusual symptoms, like changes in your usual bowel habits or blood in your motions? Of course, there may be many other reasons for these symptoms, but a chat with your doctor and a screening test can rule out bowel cancer and set your mind at rest.
  5. Most of all, a bowel screening test is quick and easy. It involves giving a stool (bowel motion) sample sent to the laboratory for testing. It’s not uncommon for your symptoms to need further checking, like a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy, so don’t be alarmed if that’s the case. Our doctors, like Dr Preetam Durshanapally, who focus on men’s health, will be glad to answer your question and refer you for further investigations.

For more information on symptoms and bowel cancer treatment, check out Bowel cancer | Ministry of Health NZ.

What you need to know about Prostate cancer screening (& who should get a test?)

  1. Surprisingly, although Prostate cancer (Matepuku pukupuku i te whekau) is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in men, there is no routine preventative screening in New Zealand. That’s why it’s essential to see your doctor have a chat. If you are at risk of developing prostate cancer, we’ll make a plan to get you tested. But, again, Prostate cancer can be successfully treated and often cured if it’s found through screening early.
  2. Ideally, all men over 50 should come into the clinic for prostate cancer screening. Screening includes having a blood test called a PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test. The PSA measures the level of PSA, a protein made by the prostate gland. Your doctor will discuss the test results with you and may also do a rectal examination to feel the consistency of the prostate gland. You probably know this test involves putting a gloved finger gently into your back passage.
  3. However, if you think you have any risk factors, like a father or brother who has prostate cancer and you’re under 50 years old, definitely come in for a chat and assessment by our doctors.
  4. While early detection and treatment are vitally important to men’s health, not all prostate cancers need treatment. Some types of tumours are so slow-growing. They may never even need treatment. But, the only way to find out if you need urgent treatment is by prostate cancer testing.
  5. Likewise, if you have any symptoms, come and get a check-up ASAP:
    Symptoms include:
    • needing to pee more often,
    • wanting to pass urine urgently,
    • seeing blood in your urine.
    • There might be many other reasons for these symptoms, but be proactive and get it checked. Unfortunately, we men are notorious for not prioritising health prevention!

Why NZ men need to be proactive about taking part in preventative health screening

Life has never been busier or more stressful since covid, so it’s essential to look after men’s health and mental well-being. Stress is a risk factor in so many men’s health issues. By coming in to visit us at Highbrook, we will be able to help you to tick off two potential worries. We can talk about anything else you need to keep an eye on like Diabetes or exercise plans too.

First, we’ll be sure to book your screening with someone who makes you feel comfortable. GPs like Dr Preetam Durshanapally can help you with Screening for Bowel Cancer, and Prostate cancer will give you the peace of mind that you are looking after your health. That way, you can get on with focusing on looking after and protecting your whānau.